Kolles: drivers “the only reason” Lotus beat HRT

2010 F1 season

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Karun Chandhok, HRT, Monte-Carlo, 2010

Colin Kolles said HRT would have done better in 2010 if they had used more experienced drivers.

HRT started the season with rookies Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok, but also ran Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien during the course of 2010.

In a Q&A published by the team Kolles said not having more experienced drivers was the “only reason” why Lotus and Virgin last year:

Q: How would you describe Hispania Racing’s first year in Formula 1?
Colin Kolles: It was a difficult year but we were the most reliable new team. I think the only reason why we did not finish tenth is that teams like Lotus and Virgin had more experienced drivers during the whole season. I think that in testing we showed quite a good performance in relation to the other new teams.

Q: Hispania Racing showed a good improvement. How can this help for 2011 and how will the experience help next year?
CK: We improved over the season. Reliability was the first objective. We learnt a lot and hope that from now on we can concentrate more on improving the performance.

Q: What is the actual situation of the team and what can you say about the car for the 2011 season? What is being done over the winter?
CK: We are working to have a better package than last year. From my point of view, the season was not as good as we would have liked it to be in terms of performance and this has to improve. Obviously this depends on a lot of factors but we are working to achieve our goals.

Q: What do you think about Williams F1 and Cosworth being your suppliers next year?
CK: It cannot be wrong to have a package which proved to be on a regular basis in Q3 in qualifying.

Q: What are your objectives for the new season?
CK: To stabilise the team and to improve its performance.

Image © Motioncompany

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Kolles: drivers “the only reason” Lotus beat HRT”

  1. Erm, no Colin, It’s because your car was a total piece of crap and you must have the poorest performing and badly managed team on the grid.

    1. To be fair, he did have some absolutely awful drivers. No-not-that-Senna in particular.

      1. I agree .. but its these crappy drivers that helped classify HRT in front of Virgin.. which is exactly one position higher than they should be. 95% of the blame should be borne by those garbage cans called HRT F1 cars.

      2. I think its unfair to accuse any of the drivers when the car they had to work with was that shocking.

      3. Karun Chandhok was the best considering qualifying was the only testing he got all year

    2. If he had said that, I would have respected his honesty as well as being very amused!

    3. Very cruel, but true.

    4. Yes this Kolles dude seems like an total ass. Talks crap about people and throws drivers around like wash cloths. Probably the worst boss ever. He needs to take a few lessons on how to keep up morale.
      Plus, he seems to be pretty lousy at other things too.
      That last one is taken out of the air though, but I’m just sick of this guy.

      1. Is he? He’s never had a team with enough money to be judged like that I think.

        I think he’s the Roberto Moreno of team owners, Moreno would drive anything to stay in the sport.

  2. Unbelievable.

    Maybe they’d have done better with a better equipted manager, Colin?

    1. Don’t worry man, the correct response to this sort of thing is: hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

      One of the best things about this site is it tends to not report useless driver statements like Kovalinen: Alonso and Hamilton favourites for the title! etc.

      Kolles wants sponsers, he’ll say anything.

      1. Craig Woollard
        16th December 2010, 9:57

        I thought Alguersuari said that?

  3. *equipped

  4. Maybe he should have considered that before he kicked hs best driver out of the car and rented it out to anyone who fancied having a go at playing Grand Prix driver.

    If they’d have kept Chandhok for the whole year they might not have been beaten. He was probably the best driver out of all of the new teams. Better even than Kovalainen and Trulli in Lotus.

    1. This again. I still wonder from where people get this kind of crazy stuff – some parallel dimension or what? That Chandhok even beat Senna is the biggest myth of the season, and Senna was blown out of the water by Klien.

      1. I don’t get that kind of post either. I can only assume it comes from a complete lack of understanding of F1.

        People always quote Chandhok’s 14th place finishes at the start of the season. But it was a period with the worst reliability for teams and therefore the number of finishing drivers was low. Each time he got that result he came last and was fortunate that his car had not failed as it had for his rivals.

        Sure Chandhok is a great guy, but come on.

        1. But he managed to not crash it with not a minute of testing. How do you think the drivers at the sharp end would have managed doing the same?

          1. lol, I’m going to assume that’s a joke. :P

          2. Actually he did crash the car his VERY first stint on track, might have even been his first lap, during Q1 in Bahrain.

          3. First lap of Bahrain GP actually. He got through quali absolutely fine

      2. Senna beat Chandhok once in all the races they were up against each other. Senna was not once beaten by another teammate. I think that in itself speaks volumes about who the better driver was out of the four. Yes, reliability played a part, but what Chandhok did was consistently extract the maximum out of the car when it was running well, and typically finished ahead of his teammate.

        If you exclude the races where one or more of the HRT cars retired, then the number of times each driver was able to beat a teammate goes as follows

        Chandhok – 4
        Senna – 5
        Yamamoto – 0
        Klien – 0

        And crucially, all of Chandhok’s results were against Senna, whereas only one of Sennas was against chandhok. Senna then went on to consistently beat all his new teammates in race results.

        And let’s not forget that he was the least experienced driver on the grid.

        So my comments aren’t a result of a “lack of understanding” but actually considering his performance compared to his teammates combined with his ability relative to his lack of experience.

        1. Well, the lack of understanding comment was aimed at people attempting to establish which drivers did better for HRT this season. Especially Chandhok due to the time and point in the season he was in the car.

          The truth is there are so many varying indicators and factors involved with HRT that anyone can pop up and bend the stats to support their argument (as you did), but then you are always missing something. Like Senna being in front of Chandhok when he had mechanical failures etc.

          You support the idea that Chandhok was the best driver of the new teams and say it’s bloody hard to tell.

          I guess we’ll have to disagree on this one. :P

          1. and I say it’s bloody hard to tell

          2. It certainly is hard to tell, I just feel that Chandhok was the most consistent in terms of extracting the most out of the car. It’s a hard call to make though, for sure.

            Incidentally I was a bit thrown by Kolles’ claim that HRT was the most reliable team on the grid, so I’ve done a few calculations based on race results.

            Assuming we take it that each team could possibly have had 38 finishes (arguable, since for some of the season Virgin didn’t have a large enough fuel tank, but anyway..)

            HRT got the most finishes with 23, compared to Lotus and Virgin with 22 and 21 respectively. So he’s right, they did finish more races, but it doesn’t look like there was a lot to it. I’ve also counted the number of retirements from each team due to accidents, which are as follows:

            HRT – 4
            Lotus – 3
            Virgin – 4

            If you subtract the number of accidents from the number of mechanical retirements, it breaks down like this:

            HRT – 11
            Lotus – 13
            Virgin – 13

            This doesn’t factor in the number of accidents which were not caused by the drivers themselves (I’m thinking of Heikki being mounted by Webber in the European GP) which obviously don’t reflect on driver skill or otherwise, and could have affected the balance of reliability considerably.

            What I’m getting at is that really, there’s very little difference between the teams in terms of both reliability and driver errors. This means that it’s more likely (as I think we all knew anyway) that the key difference between the three teams wasn’t reliabilty or the drivers, but actually the overall speed of the car they put together.

      3. I did a thorough analysis in the forum and can’t remember where it is. Suffice to say Chandhok on average matched Senna’s pace and race positions, not bad considering the circumstances.

    2. Or they should have put Klien in the car from the first laps it ran. Then the second driver could still have been Chandhok or Senna or whoever.

      Not that I rate Klien that high, just he showed them the way with setup bringing almost a second in a few laps of practise.

      1. exactly if they ran klien from the get go they would of been much much better

        or even JV. just someone to point them in the right direction set up wise. as the others looked lost.

        1. It would be much easier to say that all 4 drivers were not up to scratch :-p

        2. But maybe HRT wouldn’t have raced at all if it wasn’t for the sponsor money and Bernies love of new markets. We’ll never know .. all we know is that it was an unbelieveable struggle to get that team up and running at all and we can just hope it’ll go better next year.

          Also, I believe that Senna is better than Chandhok, maybe this year he did a really bad job, but considering the past, I stand by that claim.

          I think Pedro de la Rosa would have been a good match for HRT at the beginning. Seems he had some sponsor money and most of all, tons of experience. Klien said in an interview in german tv that the car wasn’t really the worst thing he ever drove, but that it was just really really slow and unstable under breaking, sort of like a rallye car. What was worse than the car was the fact that nobody had any idea how to set it up and more shockingly, the engineers simply didn’t understand the car. All that combined tells me that they would have needed a driver with process knowledge, someone who knows every setp of the way from a concept to the final car. That would have helped the team very very much and would improve their chances for next year also.
          But well, past is past and DLR certainly made the right decision to go to Sauber, it was probably his last shot at a decent drive.

  5. Yep, Colin, must be that inexperience. Nothing to do with the lack of testing prior to Bahrain (or during Bahrain in Chandhok’s case), the lack of development or the lack of driver management and team rapport. Yeah, must be that inexperience. Imagine how good your results would have been if 2 of your 4 drivers had previous F1 experience? Oh, wait…

    I hope HRT remains next year but ideally without Mr Kolles

    1. Personally I’d be surprised if Kolles actually believes very much of what he’s said in this short “interview” (conducted by the team itself, so more of a press release really).

      HRT is, obviously, still desperate to get some sponsors on board, and the tone of his interview is trying to suggest that with some more backing they’ll at least be beating Lotus and Virgin next year.

      You’d expect that any potential sponsor would do some due diligence before signing a cheque for a few million, but putting some very optimistic spin on the 2010 season is something Kolles has to do at this moment.

      1. Although if he was looking for money wouldn’t he blame the results on the car and imply that given some better funding they could get a better car under their drivers and show some results. By blaming the drivers it doesn’t make it sound like my money’s going to make much difference if I’m a prospective sponsor. I feel bad for all the HRT drivers. I’m sure they’re all anxious to stay in F1, but their only real option is to stick with HRT, which is certainly less than appealing, especially after these comments. Kolles is definitely the most loathsome team boss (and that’s saying a lot, as Franz Tost physically assaulted Scott Speed when he drove for STR).

  6. “Hispania Racing showed a good improvement”

    The only improvement I saw all season was Klien replacing Yamamoto.

    1. Well, I think there were probably improvements in understanding the car and setup. How else do you explain the fairly consistent gap in pace to Virgin and Lotus, when no upgrades were happening at all?

    2. Comment of the day?

      Klien > Yamamoto
      Klien > Senna
      Klien (probably) > Chandhok

      Yet he was useless up against the likes of Webber and Coulthard?

  7. Shall we forget all the times HRT finished behind a Virgin then? I agree with Chris in so far as Karum being HRT’s best driver, but it’s a bit early to say if he’s better than the 2 Lotus guys. Kicking him out for the disappointing Sakon was the second biggest mistake HRT made, the biggest mistake was in not rectifying it and putting Karun back.

    1. What Steve Lyons said!

    2. Race results are not a good way to compare Senna and Chandhok because of the poor reliabilty, especially with Senna’s car. In qualifying Senna outqualified Chandock 6-3 while driving a worse car, so Senna was clearly the best HRT driver.

      1. What Richard M said!

      2. Senna was better over a single lap (aka Q1), but Chandhok was better over race distance. Would like to see Karun back in F1, in a better car/team. I’m looking at you, VJM!

        1. I want to see him back in F1, too. As a commentator in practice for the BBC.

          1. I agree with you there bananarama. His commentary on 5 Live was much more entertaining than his on track performance.

  8. Stay away from the drugs Colin!

    1. ..and from F1

  9. Q: What is the actual situation of the team and what can you say about the car for the 2011 season? What is being done over the winter?
    CK: We are working to have a better package than last year. From my point of view, the season was not as good as we would have liked it to be in terms of performance and this has to improve. Obviously this depends on a lot of factors but we are working to achieve our goals.

    “Like anyone else, I have no idea what on Earth we’re going to do for 2011 so I’ll just give a deliberately vague reply that avoids answering the question completely”.

    Nothing Kolles has ever says fills me with confidence about him or the team. He doesn’t seem to have a clue. This attack on the drivers is ridiculous. As much as I think Senna and Chandhok deserve another chance, I’d rather they didn’t drive in F1 than do so for HRT again. It would be suicidal.

  10. Is anybody here a chiropractor? Because I just fell off my chair laughing and now it kind of hurts where I landed.

    But then, I don’t read this as a proclamation of Hispania’s perceived strengths. Kolles is too smart to go boasting about something he can’t substantiate. Maybe the Hispanias could have beaten Lotus, but they’d have needed the likes of Hamilton and Alonso to do it – and Kolles knows it. No, this reads like a backhanded insult aimed at Bruno Senna. After all, after Davide Valsecchi tested for them at Abu Dhabi, Kolles said that Valsecchi understood the Hispania F110 in the course of an afternoon when “some drivers” could not so much as manage it over a full year of competition.

    1. Ha yeah, there definitely appears to have been some falling out between Kolles and Senna. Kolles seems to take any opportunity he can to take a dig.

      1. He had that in all his earlier teams too, as far as I can rememeber – one reason I dislike him, it is usually accompanied by dancing chairs from the drivers too as happened at HRT this year.

        1. I appreciate people don’t want Senna to succeed in motor racing due to his name, but suggesting HRT swapped drivers around for any other reason than financial is stretching things a little too far, no?

    2. Umm. There wasn’t much of a car to understand, and to be fair to Senna and Chandhok they probably stepped into the worst car in decades of formula 1. And dont think HRT coldve ever beaten Lotus, Alonso Hamilton as drivers maybe, but it seems more like a sponsor attracting comment.

      1. There has been way worst cars. Ultimately, the HRT wasn’t further behind the RB6 than the fourth or fifth best cars was to a Williams or McClaren in the early nineties.

        The car must have had potential, given the gap between them and Lotus remained quite stable, with no upgrades whatsoever.

    3. How about the HRT bounced around the track so badly it hurt my back to watch. It’s not just the absurdity of Kolles comment but I don’t think that Ivan Stewart could have driven that pile of rubbish and made it go any faster.

      I thought I was watching The Baja 1000 or Paris to Dakar when the HRT was going around the track.

      1. I think we can all agree that Colin has been smoking some wicked stuff lately.

        1. To that I’d say… Don’t bogart my friend, pass it over to me”…

          1. Don’t bogart that joint my friend*

  11. With an experience team like Williams supporting them I think they should be benefited.One other thing is that the team didn’t gave their regular driver chance to get used with their machine.

  12. Well, car development is helped by the drivers. If HRT wanted to develop their car they should have hired better drivers.

    1. All the drivers really do is give input about how the car is behaving. They’re another feedback device. The most you can expect from a driver is to drive the car consistently in testing and give good, detailed feedback about what the car is doing. This information is then relayed to the engineers who either make setup changes to the car, or look longer term at developing new parts for the car.

      What the driver can’t do is design a new front wing, a shock absorber, or tell the team that the rear end instability is being caused by the profile of the leading edge of the sidepod causing high speed separation towards the rear of the car which is reducing the efficienty of the rear beam wing.

      What you really need is a crack team of top engineers. Not just people who are pretty good at designing cars, but people who have years of experience of working within the sphere of F1. And even then the best you can hope for is a car which might be pushing for a mid-field spot. If you really want success, proper success at the absolute sharp end, you also need a few total creative geniuses who can look at a set of regulations and see where the loopholes are. People who can come up with things like F-ducts, double-diffusers, ground effect cars, adaptive suspenson, inertial mass dampers, and so on.

      It’s these people who develop the car, and give the driver a package which is fundamentally fast and driveable from the outset. What the driver does is merely inform the engineers about how well it’s working, and maybe give feedback as to the setup elements of the car just to get those couple of extra tenths out of it that will put it on the front row.

      1. I pretty much agree with everything you said.

        I do feel though, that the feedback a driver gives the team is important. Detailed and focused feedback helps the technicians.

        An experienced tester, or someone who has a real intuitive feel for the car, can sometimes tell what the cause of the rear-end instability is. Rear-end instability isn’t always the same, and sometimes the driver can pair what they are feeling with the cause.

        Most of the time sensors tell you everything you need to know, but sometimes a good tester can give you an edge.

  13. I think that in testing we showed quite a good performance in relation to the other new teams.

    What testing is he even on about!? Has he forgotten they didn’t ‘test’ until Bahrain GP!?

    1. He must have been referring to the weekend tests. You know, the ones where the HRT was running on fumes while the competition was running with full tanks. It’s the only way his statement makes any sense.

    2. I thought the same at first, but I guess he is talking about the Abu Dhabi young driver test.
      But the difference there was that for once HRT was running half-decent drivers while Lotus and Virgin were running mostly crap drivers.

  14. Having two experienced drivers wasn’t the only reason Lotus were the best of the new teams but it certainly helped.

    HRT were always going to struggle after missing pre-season testing. They were lucky not to finish last in the Championship standings.

  15. As a holiday gesture Mr. Kolles should share his illicit smoking materials with the fans, at least those who would partake.

    He must have been high when making these statements, especially if he thought anyone would agree with him.

  16. From the immortal words of F1 Rejects – Go Home, Colin Kolles!

  17. If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, then we’d all have a merry Christmas.

    You had money problems and that crippled your ability to compete. Don’t rattle the sabre when you’ve got no ammo. The only reason they finished ahead of Virgin is a massive dose of luck from failures of Virgin and the rest of the field.

    If you couldn’t afford to develop your car, you certainly couldn’t afford to get experienced drivers either. Stop being such a crybaby and be happy you got 11th.

  18. Is Kolles stoned or something, why can’t he accept that this years HRT was diabolical. His drivers did what they needed to do, Lotus were just outright faster. If anything it’s his drivers who stop HRT from finishing last.

    1. i have yet to see a manager of anything that accepts responsibility for failure. in that context, his statement is still from outer space.

  19. I think every driver at HRT this season (including Yamamoto) did a fairly good job with getting the most out of the car.

    Kolles is right about Lotus – they employ a pair of great drivers that did the most out that package. And it’s true that of the new teams, HRT had the least experienced (and worst, it must be said) driver lineup of the new teams.

    Frankly, I think each of the new teams showed a respectable, if not good, effort in 2010. Lotus’s package was conservative and I fear they could fall behind HRT and Virgin next year if they don’t make major developments. I don’t like either Glock or di Grassi, but I think that Virgin stand a very good chance of moving out from the bottom of the table in 2011. HRT had the slowest car but they made massive strides forward with the worst drivers on the grid and they will only improve in 2011 with what could be a better car than Lotus.

    1. Don’t forget that Team Lotus will have the red bull rear end and posibly Renault’s KERS. They should be looking to be way ahead of HRT and Virgin. HRT have a Williams gearbox but no new car (more reliable but amazingly slow) , And Virgin? well maybe if they have upgraded their computer they will get a slightly faster design? but they will have to hope the Xtrac gearbox is more reliable in future.

  20. If HRT didn’t make so much mistakes, HRT would have success. But I can’t understand why blaming on the drivers: Chandok: eliminated to favour Yamamoto, the first they made; second not replacing Yamamoto or Senna with Klien.

    In fewer words, the driver line-up of the HRT Team should have been: Chandok and senna/Klien.

  21. This guy taking a real pounding from you lot, But considering when he joined the team, and the jobs he’s required to do, I salute his efforts for this year.

    I doubt Luca could do better.

    Anyway, The real point I wanted to make is, they don’t appear to have facilities, otherwise he would have bragged about it in this interview… So for next year, I can’t see them existing, or improving even if they do.

    But if they do exist, I’d hope people support them, F1 is a nice world for the financially limited.

  22. This guy is out of his mind. Dint I read klien say this car handles like a rally car? I doubt Vettel or Hamilton could do too much better In a rally car.

    1. Which is why today Colin will be anouncing that Sebastian Loeb and Kimi Raikkonen will be HRT’s 2011 drivers.

  23. If Kolles had not stepped in, HRT would never have made it to the grid.

  24. Well if the drivers are the only reason they were beaten, then they’d have to be pretty bad. In that case, pretty much anyone with a drivers license should be better.

    Colin, if your looking for someone to drive for you, I’m available, lol. It would be a privilege to drive such a quality car.


  25. Colin based his comments on the pace shown by Maldonado and Valsecchi in particular in the young driver tests. But of course the Virgin and Lotus test drivers were total crap as someone else already claimed.

    If he was correct and the drivers were to blame for the lack of HRT pace, then we’d have seen some sign of it perhaps at Monza or something. But there was never any sign! All year long, they were way way slow.

  26. Why dosen’t Renault just sign Senna and Force India sign Chandook ? It just makes sense …?!?!

  27. Err, and on which illegal narcotic were you high on when you came up with that theory, Colin?

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